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Faith and Politics: How the "Moral Values" Debate Divides America and How to Move Forward Together Hardcover – September 19, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (September 19, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670037877
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670037872
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,071,433 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Danforth, a Missouri Republican as well as a lawyer and Episcopal minister, tended to avoid nasty partisan politics during his three terms in the U.S. Senate (with the notable exception of his defense of his protégé Clarence Thomas during U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings). After voluntarily retiring from the Senate in 1995, Danforth accepted appointments by White House Republicans, including ambassador to the United Nations and envoy for peace in Sudan. But the partisanship of President George W. Bush, a variety of other Republicans and quite a few Democrats has now led Danforth to urge political rivals to pull together to strengthen the United States, so the nation can in turn promote world peace. Danforth oozes sincerity and good sense as he excoriates "Christian conservatives" (naming James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Ralph Reed and Pat Robertson, among others) for corrupting religious doctrine on reproduction and marriage and inappropriately inserting it in government. Conceding that he's an imperfect human being who sometimes failed as a student, husband, father, lawyer, minister and senator, Danforth comes across as a welcome paragon of virtue. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* A former three-term Republican U.S. senator from Missouri and an ordained Episcopal priest, Danforth brings exceptional insight to the debate about the political use of religion and the separation of church and state. He worries that Republican courting of the Christian Right is distorting all notions of public and private morality. He laments that when Republicans voted to have federal courts overrule the state court in the Terri Schiavo case, violating long-held principles, it allowed the Christian Right to take over the party. Danforth urges more liberal and moderate Christians to challenge the presumptiveness of the Christian Right to speak for all Christians. Rather than construct a political agenda based on narrow interpretations of religious orthodoxy, Christians should focus an expansive faith in God that embraces conflicting opinions on a range of controversial issues, including stem-cell research and gay marriage. Danforth is honest in revealing his own struggles to maintain humility in seeking political consensus, and offers a primer for politicians to conduct themselves by Christian principles without dogmatic orthodoxy that ultimately divides the nation. This incredibly thoughtful book will give pause to readers of all political and religious beliefs. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Alfred C. Martino on September 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Danforth, who has led a very interesting and impressive life, delivers a very frank criticism of how religion--and Christianity, in particular--has imposed itself on today's most pressing public issues. While I don't necessarily agree with Danforth's assessment on how much blame Republican politicians and religious conservatives deserve, "Faith and Politics" did make me pause and reconsider the direction in which the Republican party is going.
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49 of 60 people found the following review helpful By J. Johnson VINE VOICE on September 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
John Danforth has been a participant in Republican politics throughout the rise of the religious right. When the right could help him he gladly took their votes. As he watched the Republican party drift further to the right, driven by its increasingly conservative, religious base he largely sat silent. After his useful political life ended, he wrote this book, questioning the rise of the right and its effect on the Republican party and American politics. While much of what he says is true and much of his analysis is correct, to decry it now that it can no longer do him any good seems intellectually dishonest. Many will latch on to this book because it is written from the Republican, Christian side of the political aisle. In my opinion it is too little, too late.

Danforth begins by asking the question "Is faith a reconciler or divider? (My personal aswer is both). He posits 3 guidelines for the role of religion in politics.

1. We serve a large God, a transcendent God who cannot be shrunken by poliical activists and stuffed into their own agenda.

2. No one should presume to embody God's truth, including ourselves... our political programs however prayerfully inspired are no more than our best efforts to be faithful to God and we should pursue them with humility.

3. We believe God's truth is expansive enough to embrace conflicting opinions, even on hot button issues.

While I agree with the broad approach Danforth presents, the byproduct of his approach is the danger of living a passionless gospel. Eliminate the conservatives on the right and Jim Wallis on the left, much of the passion to create change disappears. Regardless of how we approach the Gospel, ultimately it demands passion and change.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Music Connoisseur on February 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As a 19 year old college student who is a currently a philosophy major and agnostic, I found this book extremely interesting. I grew up with a family of christianity and a sibling who and will pursue it for the rest of life itself, so needless to say it takes alot to get my attention on the subject.

After reading the first chapter alone I was absolutely blown away at what I was reading. Danforth may be too little too late but at least he made an effort period. His concepts, to me, display the truth about politicians using christianity for profitable gain in any form possible (in a nutshell). He spends much time clarifying his points with text from the bible and making an attempt to interprete their purpose in politics today. The fact that he's a republican is even more impressive that he had the guts to write such a novel.

Please understand...

This book was not written to give answers to all the problems. It figures that people would despise this book because it doesn't give an answer, and typical at that. As a famous artist once said, "Computers are useless because they only give you answers". This book is the inbetween. We as people have become computers only interested in finding the answer ALONE not concerned with the thought process that it takes to GET to the answer. With that mindset, we will never find the answer. It is the INBETWEEN that is the most vital.

To myself, this novel provides yet another vital step to understanding faith and politics in attempt to reach that answer that we seem to try to find. Bravo to Danforth.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By jan on January 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Because of his vast experience with both God and government, Senator Danforth knows the difference between the two. He understands that it is the responsibility of religion to inform the political process as to morality without writing the laws by which we live. As a lifelong Christian, he isn't afraid to stand up to the religious right wingers. He tries to interpret the message of Jesus, especially as to healing, from the viewpoint of a modern participant of a representative democracy without being strident and while remaining a humble gentleman. I have recommended this book to a young man I know who has shown some interest in politics as an example of a man who has been able to balance great faith and great success in the public arena.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Chris Pierson on September 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The Moral Values Debate Continues

Can anything good come from the man that played a key role the process that led to the confirmation of staunch conservative Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court? Politics aside, the short answer is yes. Danforth's background as special envoy to Sudan, where he worked to broker a peace deal ending one of the longest running civil wars in history, puts him in a good position to address the issue of religion as a source of reconciliation. So, too, does his long tenure in the United States Senate which saw the rise of the religious right within the Republican party and its polarizing effect on national politics.

The book will surprise many readers as Danforth speaks most forcefully from his priestly formation and with a prophetic voice against poverty. "Helping the poor is clearly a religious value... From the blistering condemnation of those who 'trample the poor' and 'lie on beds of ivory' in the book of Amos to Jesus' consignment of those who do not feed the hungry and clothe the naked to eternal punishment in Matthew, both Old and New Testaments are consistent in their message. Mistreatment of the poor is a grievous sin. So is ignoring them" writes Danforth.

Equally surprising to some may be his more moderate views on issues such as homosexuality and stem-cell research. Both wedge issues that divide the nation and churches as well. Having watched his brother's life destroyed by ALS, from a personal perspective, Danforth declares with passion "no theologian however learned; no church council, however authoritative; no bishop or archbishop, however holy will ever persuade me that protecting a frozen embryo that will never see the light of day should take precedence over my brother Don.
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